Opioid addiction can change someone you care about into someone you hardly recognize. Once your loved one decides to seek recovery, they need support more than ever. Medication-assisted treatment is a highly effective option that has helped many addicts reclaim their lives.
There are three equally important aspects of this form of treatment. First is medication which helps manage the physical side effects of addiction. Second is counseling, so your loved one can discover what led them to a life of addiction. Last is the support and compassion of family and friends.
You may be wondering how to support someone in medication-assisted treatment. Your love and encouragement can help your loved one decide to enter treatment and stick with it.
What to Expect When a Loved One Is in MAT
Medication-assisted treatment, often referred to as MAT, is an opioid addiction treatment that uses medication to help people fight cravings and address painful withdrawal symptoms. Just as insulin treats diabetes, MAT, in conjunction with counseling, can be used to treat opioid use disorder.
You may be concerned that MAT is just replacing one addiction for another. This is a common misconception about medication-assisted treatment. That’s why it’s important to understand the goal of MAT.
Addiction is a disease that hijacks the brain and interferes with your loved one’s values. MAT addresses the physical effects of the drugs so that your loved one can focus on their recovery and get back in touch with what’s important to them.
How long your loved one participates in medication-assisted treatment is up to them and their treatment team. People can safely take these medications for as long as need, from a few months to several years. Once your loved one feels they no longer need the medication, their doctor will help them taper off gradually to ensure their safety.
Tips for Supporting Someone in Medication-Assisted Treatment
Supporting someone in MAT can take many forms. Help can be practical, such as driving your loved one to get treatment. It can also be as simple as encouraging them if they’re having a hard day.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to help you successfully serve as part of your loved one’s support system:
- Educate yourself: Find out more about opioid addiction so that you can understand this disease more fully.
- Don’t judge: Your loved one undoubtedly feels shame and guilt about the time they lost to their addiction. Try to accept them for who they are without judgment, criticism or negativity.
- Offer encouragement: Remind your loved one that recovery is possible and encourage them to create positive change.
- Be patient: While medication-assisted treatment can help, recovery can be a long and complicated journey. There may be setbacks. Let them know that you support them even when things are tough.
- Actively listen: Your loved one will need a safe place to share both their struggles and their victories.
- Promote healthy habits: Good nutrition, exercise, sleep, counseling and support groups are all positive aspects of self-care that will help your loved one recover. Having fun together will also help you rebuild trust and companionship.
- Take care of yourself: Supporting a loved one in MAT can take an emotional toll. Join your own support group so that you can enjoy hope and encouragement yourself.
Help Your Loved One Find an Effective Medication-Assisted Treatment
If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, BAART Programs can help with professional medication-assisted treatment. Contact us online to learn more or give us a call today at 844-341-4040.